“Scary Movie” co-creator Marlon Wayans is back on the big screen with “A Haunted House,” a film he co-wrote and stars in alongside Essence Atkins.
“A Haunted House” is a comedy-horror spoof centered around Malcom and Kisha (Wayans and Atkins), a young couple that moves in together only to discover that their house is haunted.
The movie parodies found-footage style films like “Paranormal Activity.” Wayans, 40, who helped bring the parody film genre back to life with the “Scary Movie” franchise, saw a gap in the market for the movie.
“It’s not like they are making that many comedies out there these days, and there aren’t that many roles for black people,” Wayans recently told me during a sit-down interview. “There’s not that many roles for white guys and there’s damn sure no roles for black people.”
Wayans came up with the idea after witnessing the immense success of the “Paranormal Activity” films.
“I started watching the ‘Paranormal Activity’ movies because they are the best of the found-footage movies and the most successful,” he said. “I started watching that and I was like, ‘You know what? What if this happened to a black couple?’ Jokes just started popping up. “
Wayans called upon slapstick comedy genre favorites Cedric the Entertainer and Nick Swardson to bring his vision to the big screen.
“When you hire veterans like those guys, you let them riff and you let them play. It would be like if I got Slash on guitar, I’m not going to make Slash just play the sheet music,” Wayans said. “You let him riff. That’s how you get great stuff. Those guys really performed and gave me some magic.”
Comedy is nothing new for Marlon. He is the youngest of 10 Wayans siblings, a family that includes “In Living Color” co-creators Damon and Keenan Ivory, writer and “Scary Movie” star Shawn and renowned actress Kim.
“We’re all talented in different ways. We all have our strengths. Keenan is the Godfather, he’s masterful in terms of understanding how to make humor work and the science of comedy and how to articulate that to young and up-and-coming guys and give them direction,” Marlon revealed. “Damon is a brilliant performer; he’s a master of the arts. Shawn is the best kept secret; people don’t understand how brilliant that dude is. A lot of the movies we’ve done together, he’s come up with the idea. He’s my idea machine. My sister Kim is like Lucille Ball. She’s magical in terms of her performance and her writing.”
Wayans got his start on brother Keenan’s Fox variety show “In Living Color” in the early 1990s, but his dreams of entering show business started long before.
“I always wanted to [entertain], before my brother even got into it. I knew at 4 years old, me and my brother were watching Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck and we were like, ‘We want to be those guys,’” Wayans said. “Luckily my brother made an entry and paved the way. He let me understand that my dream can become a reality. I’m grateful for that.”
After a four-year stint with brother Shawn on the WB sitcom “The Wayans Bros.,” Marlon made the transition to drama in Darren Aronofsky’s “Requiem for a Dream,” a role that he had to audition for five times. Despite critical acclaim for his performance, more dramatic roles didn’t come flooding in.
Rather than waiting on Hollywood, Wayans decided to create roles for himself in films like “Scary Movie” and “White Chicks,” both of which he co-wrote, co-produced and co-starred in with brother Shawn.
Wayans is quick to point out the differences between “A Haunted House” and his past work. He said, “There is more of a story and characters that you care about in ‘A Haunted House.’ It is actually a romantic comedy in a sense. It’s a lot more than meets the eye. It looks like one of those goofy satires, but to me it’s more of a movie.”
Marlon hasn’t been involved with the last three “Scary Movie” installments, and he is not pleased with the direction the genre has taken.
“‘Scary Movie’ has lost its way as a franchise. It has turned into ‘Disaster Film’ and ‘Epic Movie’ and ‘Date Movie’ and that isn’t what I wanted,” he said. “I wanted to do a movie that was just grounded in a reality that went to crazy places.”
Wayans is especially perplexed over the decision to cast notorious celebrity train wrecks Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan in the upcoming “Scary Movie 5.”
“I think [Lohan and Sheen] are like coke meets crack. It sounds like a crack omelet. I hope she didn’t drive him to work and I hope he didn’t make her one of his goddesses,” Wayans joked. “But look, I’m a fan of Charlie. I think he’s a really funny guy. He’s just good. And I think Lindsay, before her problems, she was a talented girl too. Our formula is a little different. I think they are trying to recreate, trying to think ‘What would the Wayans do?’ But we probably wouldn’t do that.”
“A Haunted House” hits theaters Friday, January 11. Click here to purchase tickets through Fandango.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.